The Christian tradition of an honorable burial and the placing of the body of the deceased in a coffin "to rest" in the ground is based upon its faith in the body's resurrection. Jacob's desire to be buried with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah in the Cave of Machpelah rather than in Egypt (Genesis 49:29-32), and Joseph's request to be buried in Canaan (Genesis 50:24-26) reflect this same resurrectional hope. To be buried with one's people and loved ones in order to arise together on the resurrection day is a tender and loving expression of Christian faith in God's resurrectional promise.
Therefore, the Christian church opposes practices which tend to undermine or distort this Christian funeral and burial tradition, especially the custom of cremation. Cremation is to be opposed for the following scriptural and traditional reasons.
1.No scriptural example of any believer being cremated is recorded -Both Old and New Testament examples portray the reverent burial of the deceased according to God's declaration, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:19). Examples of burials would include Sarah (Genesis 23:1-20), Abraham (Genesis 25:9-10), Isaac (Genesis 35:29), Rebekah and Leah (Genesis 49:29), Jacob (Genesis 50:13-14), many examples of judges, kings, and prophets, John the Baptist (Matthew 14:12), Lazarus (John 11:17), and Stephen (Acts 8:2).
2.The pattern of Jesus' death and burial is the examplefor us
to follow -God's care over the body of His Son to ensure its proper burial provides a pattern for us to follow (Isaiah 53:9; John 19:31-42).
3. The burial ("laying to rest") of bodies is in harmony with, and testifies oj, the hope of the resurrection. Scripture testifies that the body shall be revived; that all is not over. Careful care for the bodies of the deceased reflects this belief (John 19:25-26, Isaiah 57:2, John 5:28-29, I Corinthians 15, etc.).
4. Scriptural examples of cremation are those which express God's condemnation of it, His severe judgment for sin, or its use in very exceptional circumstances -Cremation was the judicial punishment for certain types of incest (Leviticus 20:14), a priest's daughter who prostituted her holy relationship (Leviticus 21 :9),
And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be
gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace.
There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebecca his wife; and there I buried Leah.
The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.
Cremation -The act of reducing a body to ashes by burning it
And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;
The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.
And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.